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Facing up to Germany's past, or a homage to Hitler?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 17:36 UK time, Sunday, 16 January 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 17 January 2011. Listen to the programme.

We’re in Berlin, setting up for Monday’s programme which comes from the ‘Hitler and the Germans’ exhibition at the German History Museum, just opposite the Brandenburg Gate. Such an exhibition, in such a place, could not escape criticism and controversy. Before its opening in October some warned it would become a shrine for neo-Nazis. Others accused museum authorities of seeking to glorify a tyrant.

More than 65 years after Hitler death, some would argue there’s still a sense of collective guilt. Author and Law Professor Bernhard Schlink of Berlin’s Humboldt University believes

"Contemporary Germany is not entirely free of this 'second guilt' felt by younger generations for the "sins of their fathers."



Curators have made strenuous efforts to show the Nazi leader in a negative light. You can see him, but you can’t hear him. No audio recordings of his speeches are played. Yet despite, or perhaps because of this, the exhibition has attracted further ire from Der Spiegel.

"The exhibition...has merely tapped into existing fascination with the Führer rather than break new ground in exploring German history. It is a missed opportunity because Germany needs to find a new approach towards confronting its past."


It was absolutely packed this afternoon - in fact the exhibition’s been so popular that the museum has extended it for 3 weeks. So are Germans finally becoming comfortable with their wartime history or is this morbid fascination? What does this say about Germany in 2011?

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